On software patents

From Robert O’Callahan, via Brenda, one of the most insightful things I’ve ever read on the subject of software patents:

In software, especially cutting-edge software like Firefox, every developer is an inventor; coming up with new ways of doing things is not exceptional, it’s what our developers do every single day. Invention created at such a rate does not deserve or benefit from years of monopoly protection. Indeed, it will be crippled if we are forced to play the patent system “to the hilt”, to acquire vast numbers of our own software patents and to navigate the minefield of other people’s patents.

This echoes my instinctual feelings about software patents – where do you even start?  So much innovation happens so constantly in software development (ok, and so much reinvention of various wheels not invented here, but that’s another story…) that the patent system as is just doesn’t make sense.

Gr8 Designs Microcontroller Workshop

I promised the girls in my workshop sessions today that I would post some links to various resources on the Arduino microcontroller and some of the awesome projects I showed off. Here goes!

Places to get Arduinos and other electronic components in Toronto:

  • Creatron has good prices on the Lilypad and regular Arduino, as well as a very friendly and helpful proprietor.  It’s on College just East of Spadina.
  • Honson is just West of Spadina; they have a wider selection of things like LEDs, but don’t stock Arduinos.
  • Active Surplus on Queen West is also worth a look, though their selection of components varies.

Project inspiration, resources, and other links:

I hope everyone has fun learning more about electronics and microcontrollers than what little I talked about in the workshops, and please feel free to email me if you have any questions – my address is leigh (at) hypatia.ca .


U of T Library Bookmarklet

U of T has off-campus access to research papers and other resources. This is obviously super useful. There are a couple of ways of logging into their web-based proxy service, and they are all annoying. So I made a bookmarklet:

UTL Proxy

Drag this link to your bookmarks bar, then go to a restricted URL like the one I’m currently reading and click it – you’ll be directed to U of T’s central web login page if you’re not cookied already from something like UTORmail.

Once you’re cookied you’ll be able to do this until your session goes idle.

The javascript is pretty basic, but due credit is owed to the University of Manitoba.